US court: Sonia must respond on 1984 case by 2nd Jan’14

December 16, 2013 by  
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1984 sikh riotsNew York, December 16, 2013: A US federal court has given Congress President Sonia Gandhi till Jan 2 to respond to a Sikh body’s charges of protecting and shielding party leaders allegedly involved in the November 1984 anti-Sikh violence.

Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) had filed an amended class action complaint against Gandhi on Dec 4 citing what it called “specific instances of impunity, promotions and party tickets” to Congress leaders and police officials involved in 1984 violence.

The SFJ complaint against Sonia Gandhi invokes the federal court jurisdiction over the case based on Alien Tort Statute and the Torture Victim Protection Act of 1992 giving the survivors of human rights abuses the right to sue the perpetrators in the US.

The 38- page complaint demanding a jury trial of Sonia Gandhi alleges that her “acts and omissions were deliberate, wilful, intentional, wanton and malicious and should be punished by an award of compensatory and punitive damages”.

While SFJ claims that the court summons were served on Sonia Gandhi through hospital and security staff at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Centre in New York on Sep 9, Gandhi’s attorneys had challenged the service of summons.

– ians

Kerala: George in trouble for launching Modi’s run

December 16, 2013 by  
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Kerala Unity RunKerala, December 16, 2013: His party has sought action against him.

The chief whip of Kerala’s ruling Congress-led coalition, P C George, is in trouble for flagging off BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi’s ‘Run for Unity’ in Kottayam on Sunday.

George, a leader of regional Christian party Kerala Congress (M) had on Sunday flagged off the run much to the anger of the ruling Congress, with the party seeking action against him.

Congress spokesperson Panthalam Sudhakaran and several other leaders said George should not be allowed to continue as chief whip as his action was against the secular principles of the UDF government.

“He has been known for creating troubles in the government. But by flagging off a BJP event, he has crossed all limits,” said Sudhakaran.

‘Run for Unity’ is being held across the country as part of mobilisation for building a giant statue of Sardar Patel in Gujarat. BJP Kottayam district president Ettumanoor Radhakrishan said George participated in the marathon after accepting BJP’s invitation.

George justified his participation in the BJP program saying that he has a great admiration for Patel. “Even if extremists organize an event to honor Patel, I would take part in it,” said George, who wore a saffron shawl along with other BJP leaders present at the event.

– indian express

Bangladesh: Amnesty fears attacks on Hindus

December 16, 2013 by  
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Attacks on Bangladesh HindusBangladesh, December 13, 2013: Amnesty International has said the execution of Bangladesh’s Jamaat-e-Islami leader and war criminal Abdul Quader Mollah could trigger more violence with the country’s minority Hindu community bearing the brunt.

Mollah, who was also the Jammat’s assistant secretary general, was hanged at 10.01 p.m. Thursday, hours after the country’s highest court dismissed his petition to review his death sentence.

Mollah was sentenced to death for crimes against humanity in the 1971 Liberation War.

“The execution of Abdul Quader Mollah should never have happened. The death penalty is a human rights violation and should not be used to punish other alleged human rights violations,” said Abbas Faiz, Amnesty International’s Bangladesh Researcher, in a press release.

“The country is on a razor’s edge at the moment with pre-election tensions running high and almost non-stop street protests. Mollah’s execution could trigger more violence with the Hindu community bearing the brunt,” Faiz said.

The rights body said Hindus are at a risk of reprisal attacks after the execution.

“Bangladesh’s minority Hindu community has been targeted in attacks this year following an earlier ICT (International Crimes Tribunal) verdict, they are at particular risk of violence now the execution has been carried out,” Faiz said.

“The authorities must ensure that anyone at risk, especially Hindus, are given the protection they need at this tense time. Whole villages were burned down in the violence against Hindus this year and no one has been brought to justice.

“It is also crucial that all politicians in Bangladesh make it crystal clear to their supporters to refrain from human rights abuses and that attacks on Hindu communities are unacceptable,” Faiz added.

– deccan herald

‘Philomena’ movie is an attack on Catholics – atheist critic

December 16, 2013 by  
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Anti Catholic Philomena movieUSA, December 10, 2013: An atheist movie reviewer has criticized the new film “Philomena” as “another hateful and boring attack on Catholics,” saying that it unfairly shows the Church as exploitative and coercive.

“Anyone who is honest understands that it lambastes the way Irish Catholicism played out in 1950s Ireland, using falsehoods whenever necessary to underscore the point,” said Kyle Smith, a movie critic for the New York Post.

“Some like ‘Philomena’ for that reason. Some think there should be a little more art than diatribe to a film,” he continued.

The Weinstein Company movie dramatizes the story of Philomena Lee, an Irish woman who gave up her son for adoption at a convent in 1950s Ireland after she gave birth out of wedlock at age 18. The movie is told from the perspective of Lee 50 years later as she travels with journalist Martin Sixsmith to learn what happened to her son.

Smith, a self-described atheist, initially characterized the movie in a Nov. 21 review as “a witless bore,” “90 minutes of organized hate,” and “a diabolical-Catholics film, straight-up.”

In response, the Weinstein Company ran a full-page ad in the Dec. 5 New York Times citing the review and publishing excerpts of a letter from Lee to Smith. The elderly Lee said she has “a very strong hold on my faith” and that the movie was meant to be “a testament to good things, not an attack.”

Smith responded on Dec. 7 that Lee ignored how that the movie depicted her in a negative way, as a “dimwit and butt of most of its jokes” in comparison to the “sophisticate” atheist journalist.

The film critic said the movie was “lazy” and “contrived” with “smack-you-in-the-nose” dialogue like the journalist character’s “crowd-pleasing, film-defining cry ‘f—ing Catholics’.”

While the movie portrays the Church as cruel and coercive, Smith noted that it was in some ways a refuge for single mothers who could not support children on their own in the face of social ostracism.

“We all know how cruel it was for the mid-century Catholic Church to provide shelter for scorned women written off as dead by their families, help them give birth to their children and place the adoptees in loving homes,” Smith said with sarcasm. “Today we’d be much more compassionate: we’d simply abort all those kids. Problem solved.”

He added that the film is encouraging anti-Catholic sentiment among some reviewers, such as James Killough of, whose review cited the obscene reference to Catholics in its title.

Killough’s review said that the Church has abused “just about everyone in the history of its existence,” and those who disagree with actor and Steve Coogan’s depiction of it are likely members of the Catholic clergy or “as terrorized by this most dangerous and egregious of Christian sects as Philomena herself.”

Smith, however, said that he “could see no reason for the movie’s existence other than to soar overhead in the guise of the sweet bird of comedy, then drop a surprise load of guano on Catholic institutions.”

“Like Coogan, I was raised Catholic and became an atheist, but I have too much respect for people of faith to be obnoxious about it,” he stated.

The “Philomena” distributor is owned by Harvey Weinstein, whom Time Magazine ranked as the most powerful man in Hollywood in 2012. Smith said that Weinstein has a “resume of anti-Catholic movies” including “The Magdalene Sisters,” “The Butcher Boy,” and “Priest.”

Smith said the latest film is playing to “mostly empty theaters,” despite receiving several positive reviews. He questioned the judgment on many movie critics.

“Film critics tend to give a free pass to obvious, trite, heavy-handed movies that light up the correct political-pleasure circuits in their brains,” he said. “I’m used to disagreeing with them.”

– cna

Tazania: Youth leader hacked to death. Christians threatened

December 14, 2013 by  
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Christian leaders are being targeted in violent attacks

Christian leaders are being targeted in violent attacks

Tanzania, December 09, 2013: Christian leaders in Tanzania are in mounting danger and also facing opposition from the authorities; a youth worker was hacked to death in a brutal machete attack, while several pastors are facing false criminal charges.

Eliya Meshack was killed while leading an overnight prayer session in Gilgal Christian Worship Centre in the Ilemela district of Mwanza province on 22 October. He died on the spot, while two other Christians were seriously injured.

Eliya’s wife Marry said that they had been receiving threats for more than six months, which they reported to the police, but no action was taken. She has been left to raise their two children, Prosper (9) and Prisca, who is just nine months-old, alone.

It is not known who carried out the attack, but church leaders suspect the involvement of Uamsho (“the awakening”), an Islamic separatist group that is pushing for the semi-autonomous archipelago of Zanzibar to become an independent state. The group has been responsible for numerous church attacks.

A number of church leaders have been killed or injured in violent attacks this year. Joseph Anselmo Mwagambwa had acid thrown at him in Zanzibar on 13 September, which caused burns to his face and shoulders; Pastor Robert Ngai suffered serious cuts to his hands and arms when he was attacked with machetes in his home in Geita on 2 June; Pastor Mathayo Kachila (45) was beheaded in Buseresere on 11 February; six days later, Evarist Mushi was shot dead outside his church in Zanzibar.

Christians are under mounting threat in Tanzania as Islamism grows in strength. Recruitment videos for al-Shabaab, a militant Islamist group based in Somalia, are being shown in some of the country’s mosques. One features prominent sheikhs urging Muslims to kill the leaders of “kafiris” (infidels).

As well as the upsurge in violence, Christian leaders are also being subjected to harassment by the authorities; 52 false cases have been brought against pastors.

One pastor has faced repeat accusations of making derogatory remarks about Islam and Muhammad, under the charge of “uttering words with intent to wound religious feelings”. He was targeted after two Muslims converted to Christianity.

Another pastor has been jailed on the false charge of having baptised an underage convert.

– barnabas team

Greek-Orthodox Patriarchate: “No news of the 13 Ma’aloula nuns, we do not trust the video”

December 14, 2013 by  
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Syria, December 11, 2013: According to video released by Al-Jazeera the women religious held in Yabrud were to be released on December 9. The Greek -Orthodox Patriarchate “concerned” about their condition. Ongoing intense fighting in the area between the army and Islamist insurgents. Two Spanish journalists in Syria to a report on the anti- Assad revolution held captive by Islamic extremists.

Orthodox nun13 greek -orthodox nuns kidnapped in Maaloula along with some young orphans are still in the hands of the Islamist group al- Ahrar Qalamoun . After the  video released December 6 by Al- Jazeera there has been no more news of the women religious, despite the speculation about their possible release as early as last December 9.

Contacted by AsiaNews, the Greek – orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch says it “does not have any news on the condition of the nuns and three young orphans from Ma’aloula .” The last direct contact was brief phone call to the Patriarch of Antioch Youhanna X a few days after the kidnapping .

“Since then – said a source in the Patriarchate – no one has been in touch with us and most of the news we read on the internet like the rest of the world. We have seen the video released by al- Jazeera , but we have no confirmation on the real condition of the sisters, nor the reasons for their seizure and we think that the video is unreliable and further investigation is required . “In the video the Ma’aloula sisters appeared in good health and denied having been abducted , but only brought to safety. The women were filmed wearing their religious clothing, but without the traditional crucifix.

Fierce fighting is being reported from the region of Qalamoun between the army and Islamist insurgents . The area which incorporates the small village of Yabrud is located about 50 km kilometers northwest of Damascus and is one of the most important strongholds of the rebels. In the mountainous area on the border with Lebanon, there are several predominantly Christian villages such as Sadad and Hofar fallen in recent months into the hands of Islamic extremists. Yesterday the army regained control of Nabak, Deir Attiya and Qara.

AsiaNews sources point out that the rebels fighting against Assad belong to different factions, each taking advantage of abductions for various purposes . Some groups, such as the authors of the seizure of the Sisters of Maaloula, trying to distance themselves from extremist and violent kidnappings say the abductions are ” humanitarian actions aimed at the protection of civilians .” The most intransigent and violent use the hostages as human shields and as a bargaining chip in negotiations with Assad ‘s army . The last case concerns two Spanish journalists , Javier Espinosa ( El Mundo ) and Ricardo Garcia ( freelance photographer ) , who disappeared September 16 in the province of Raqqa ( Turkish border ) , who are reportedly in the hands of the militia of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant . The two were in Syria just to document the positive aspects of the rebellion against Assad.

According to El Mundo – which in recent months has silenced the news to deal with the kidnappers – the two journalists were kidnapped along with four fighters of the Free Syrian Army. The militiamen were released after 12 days, but not the two Spaniards . Today Monica Prieto , wife of Javier Espinosa , has appealed to the kidnappers : ” Javier and Ricardo are not your enemies. Please honor the revolution that they have protected and free them .” There are also several Syrian anti- Assad activists in the hands of groups of kidnappers, not yet been identified . Today, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights announced the disappearance of Razan Zaytouna , winner of the Anna Politkovskaya Award 2011. The woman was kidnapped in the suburb of Douma east of Damascus along with other activists by armed men. They raided the headquarters of the Centre for the documentation of human rights violations linked to the rebellion. Zaytouna had admitted receiving death threats from Islamic extremist groups . (SC)

– asianews

Cardinal Ossie against criminalisation of homosexuality

December 14, 2013 by  
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Mumbai, December 12, 2013: Gracias says criminalization is wrong.

Cardinal Oswald GraciasCardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Mumbai and president of the Episcopal Conference of India, said that the Church has “never considered gay people criminals,” after the Supreme Court of India restored a law banning homosexual acts.

According to reports, Cardinal Gracias, a member of the Council of Cardinals advising Pope Francis on Curial reform, said “the Catholic Church has never been opposed to the decriminalisation of homosexuality, because we have never considered gay people criminals.”

“As Christians, we express our full respect for homosexuals. The Catholic Church is opposed to the legalisation of gay marriage, but teaches that homosexuals have the same dignity of every human being and condemns all forms of unjust discrimination, harassment or abuse,” Cardinal Gracias said.

India’s Supreme Court overturned a decision taken by the High Court of Delhi in 2009, which had decriminalised homosexual acts. The court said it was up to parliament to legislate on the issue. According to Section 377, a 153-year-old colonial law, a same-sex relationship is an “unnatural offence” and punishable by a 10-year jail term.

– catholic herald

Karnataka: Two women held for ‘conversion’ on Hindutva plaint

December 14, 2013 by  
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women detained for alleged conversionKarnataka, December 11, 2013: Less than a week after 13 persons from Gujarat were detained for allegedly indulging in religious conversion at Nallur-Peralke, the police on Tuesday December 10 took two women into custody for allegedly propagating Christianity among non-Christians. The women were later released.

Rajani and Chitra had reportedly gone to houses in Kalambadi in Nitte to distribute books and pamphlets concerning Christianity.  They had been to the house of Amaravani, a local and allegedly persuaded her to convert to Christianity by giving a lecture on the religion, it is said.

The news spread like wildfire and Bajrang Dal activists gathered to protest.  The police, who rushed to the spot, took the two women into custody for questioning. They were made to sign a statement that they did not convert anybody to Christianity but had only come to propagate their faith.  The women were then released.

Vishwa Hindu Parishat and Bajrang Dal jointly condemned the inaction of the police. They claimed that a network of people was active in the taluka inducing and persuading people to convert to Islam and Christianity. Bajrang Dal taluka convener Mahesh Bailur said that they will protest against the indifference of the police department in this regard.

On December 7, the police, based on Bajrang Dal’s complaint, had detained and later released a group of 13 persons from Gujarat for allegedly trying to ‘convert’ people to Islam. However, local Muslim leaders had said that the group came to propagate their faith among their own community and did not attempt to convert anyone.

– daijiworld

UP: 200 ft Buddha statue and 268 acres complex @ Rs.400 Cr. Free land by govt.

December 14, 2013 by  
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Akhilesh to lay foundation for 200 ft Buddha statueUttar Pradesh, December 12, 2013: Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav will lay the foundation stone of multi-crore project in Kushinagar Dec 13 that includes construction of a 200-feet bronze statue of Lord Buddha, education institutes and parks, officials said Thursday.

Buddhist monk Lama Jopa Rinposhe and other international dignitaries are likely to take part in the ceremony, officials told IANS.

The Maitreya project will be spread across 268 acres and will have a grand and modern educational institution for primary and higher education. It will also include a free medical facility unit, meditation pavillion, fountains, water bodies, parks, and a guest house.

Officials said the architecture and other works in the project will remain unblemished for the next 1,000 years. A basic capital of Rs.400 crore was being invested in the project.

This project was initially declared by the Uttar Pradesh government after a statue of Lord Buddha situated in Bamyan, Afghanistan was brought down by the Taliban.

In May 2003, the state government and the Maitreya project Trust had signed an Memorandum of understanding (MoU) which stated that the Trust would bear the enitre cost of the project while the state government will provide free land.

The Samajwadi Party (SP) government in the state has already cleared an international airport at Kushinagar to promote tourism in the region and a pre-notification was issued Nov 8, 2013.

– tcn


Iran: Ps. Saeed’s sufferings intensify. 2 Christians free

December 14, 2013 by  
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Pastor Farhad Sabokrouh and his wife Shahnaz Jeizan

Pastor Farhad Sabokrouh and his wife Shahnaz Jeizan

Iran, December 09, 2013: Two Christian leaders have been released from prison in Iran, while Pastor Saeed Abedini is enduring constant threats to his life and deteriorating health in a highly dangerous jail.

Pastor Farhad Sabokrouh and Naser Zamen Dezfuli were freed on 4 December, two weeks before the end of their jail term.

They were sentenced, along with Pastor Farhad’s wife, Shahnaz Jeizan, and Davoud Alijani, to serve one year each in prison. There has been no news as to whether Shahnaz and Davoud will also be released early.

The four were detained following a raid on their Assemblies of God (AOG) church in Ahwaz on 23 December 2011. They were later found guilty of “converting to Christianity, inviting Muslims to convert, as well as propagating against the Islamic regime through promoting Evangelical Christianity”.

The AOG church is registered with the authorities but has nevertheless faced intense harassment and pressure.


Meanwhile, Iranian-American pastor Saeed Abedini is suffering grievously in Rajai Shahr Prison, which is one of the deadliest in the world.

He told relatives who were able to visit him last week that he has been robbed at knifepoint several times, losing the few personal hygiene items he has been able to obtain.

Saeed is in a ward with violent prisoners, including murderers and rapists, from whom he has no respite or protection. He said there have been several nights when he has awoken to find men standing over him with knives.

His health is also suffering severely. The pastor has been denied the medication he was prescribed for injuries sustained from prison beatings. Saeed said that he was in pain in his stomach and kidneys. He also appears to be suffering recurring urinary tract infections and is experiencing joint pain.

The appalling conditions in Rajai Shahr are causing further problems. Saeed is covered in lice and has lost weight from lack of proper nutrition. He is having difficulty sleeping.

Saeed was moved without explanation or notice to Rajai Shahr Prison last month. Prisoners of conscience are said to be sent there to disappear. He is serving an eight-year jail term for planting house churches.

– barnabas team

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